Current patterns in the Inner Sound (Pentland Firth) from underway ADCP data

Lonneke Goddijn-Murphy, David Kevin Woolf, Matthew Easton

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    56 Citations (SciVal)


    Numerous acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) surveys were performed in the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth, a channel between the Orkney Islands and the northern coast of Scotland connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The Pentland Firth has the highest tidal streams of the British Isles, and one of the highest that can be found around the globe. Here, the tidal energy industry is in its demonstration phase, but not many real current measurements are in the public domain. The authors present real current data, measured during different phases of the tidal cycle, using a vessel-mounted ADCP. The tidal changes can be rapid, and because the underway measurements take time, the apparent spatial patterns are affected by temporal variation. A method is described that estimated and corrected this temporal distortion using a hydrodynamic model. It appeared that ebb and flood streams did not fully overlap, and that the tidal streams were more complicated, turbulent, and variable than existing models suggest. The data were analyzed for characteristics pertinent to practical tidal stream energy exploitation, and two favorable sites in the Inner Sound are identified. All original current data are available from the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC).
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)96-111
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of atmospheric and oceanic technology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


    • Renewable energy


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